One thing at all times appears to be ‘cracking’ round 1993 Pipestone Excessive Faculty graduate Pete Hansen.
Actually, that checks out, as Hansen lives with the sound of drum sticks cracking skins because the Director of the percussion academy Groove Inc. in Sioux Falls, S.D. – the place he resides together with his spouse Sarah and their 4 kids.
Nonetheless, as an journey bicyclist Hansen usually seems to be the conduit for even louder, and definitely extra alarming resonance, whether or not coming from the crunching of ice on a desolate stretch of the Iditarod Path Invitational (350) bike race in Alaska or the cracking of skulls between a pair of rejected male buffalo throughout mating season within the Badlands of South Dakota on his most up-to-date trek – the 2020 Trans South Dakota Race.
Not solely did Hansen draw such curious cacophony to himself through the TSDR that started July 18 on the Buffalo Soar Steakhouse in Beulah Wyo. (elev. 3,500 ft), but additionally his new good friend and driving accomplice Petr Ineman acquired a style of what it’s wish to be across the bravado of the seemingly hell-bent bullseye.
“We have been nearly to Blunt (S.D.), attempting to remain forward of a storm, and Petr says, ‘hey Pete, you assume we should always cease?’” defined the 46-year-old Hansen, roughly 335 miles into the 714-mile cross-state journey. “‘Nah, let’s maintain going.’”
Seconds later the pair have been nearly engulfed by a lightning strike that had the cyclists tingling for hours.
“It was a crash and a blinding gentle in entrance of us,” stated Hansen.
Ineman disagreed, “No, is was simply behind us.”
“Oh man, we have been within the lightning bolt!” Hansen supplied. “It was like that scene in Star Wars the place they’re preventing and the man has electrical energy popping out of his fingers. Our fingers have been completely tingling, and the one two issues Petr, who has summited Denali (elev. 20,310 ft) twice and gained the ITI 1,000, is afraid of are lightning and snakes… and he says, ‘ought to we cease now?’”
Whereas only a snippet of the huge expertise they shared over the course of 4 days, 5 hours and 17 minutes between Beulah and North Sioux Metropolis, Iowa that positioned them in a tie for third place behind winner James Meyer (3 days, 5 hours, 5 min, 50 sec) and runner-up Stan Prutz (4 days, 1 hour, 33 min.), the episode proved one of many defining moments of their race – serving to them develop a friendship that might ultimately result in extra grandiose floor plans.
Having competed within the TSDR twice earlier than, Hansen realized a lot for his prior treks. So, regardless of getting his common, sporadic pre-race slumber (perhaps 4 hours) the Friday earlier than assembly on the beginning line in Beulah, Hansen had banked a number of hours of sleep days earlier than his third, completely self-contained TSDR that featured a discipline of twenty-two cyclists.
“There’s three races throughout the TSDR, a 60-mile race to Lead S.D., a midway race to Pierre, S.D. (360 mile) that ends after the river crossing and your complete race which fits all the way in which to North Sioux Metropolis,” defined Hansen, the oldest of Dennis and Diane Hansen’s two boys. “And there’s completely different sorts of racers of various ages, nevertheless it’s not a race like RAGBREI (annual race throughout Iowa) the place, perhaps, you’re going 4-5 hours on bikes a day and the opposite hours are spent consuming, ingesting and socializing. You’re attempting to get throughout South Dakota as quick as humanly attainable. And to make it extra fascinating, you’re occurring gravel ‘B’ roads many of the manner… assume there’s solely 10 miles of paved highway throughout your complete race. They’re not even typical ‘B’ roads, the sort raised up four-wheelers would get 50 ft into and again up – ‘not price it.’”
And the race hits the sphere with a sucker punch off the beginning line, ascending greater than 3,000 miles, from Beulah to Cement Ridge Lookout (6,647) over the preliminary 22 miles of the course.
Starting with half as a lot weight, 45 kilos totally loaded on his Salsa Journeyman, in comparison with his first TSDR on a Fats Bike (110 kilos), Hansen, Ineman and Meyer shortly distance themselves from the remainder of the sphere. Inside quarter-hour the trio are properly out in entrance.
“We’re cruising uphill and everybody else is falling again,” Hansen stated. “James, who grew up in Spearfish after which went out to Colorado to race mountain bikes is simply tearing it up.”
After the unbelievable climb up the primary part, the course ultimately flattens out to a single-track stretch of 7-8 miles of paved highway transferring towards Terry Peak earlier than ascending for a brief distance up a steep, gravel logging highway utilized by mining firms.
“It’s one of the crucial brutal sections of the course; it’s not lengthy, however as a result of a twister had worn out 40-50 timber, you needed to raise bike your up 3-4 ft to go over every,” Hansen stated. “It undoubtedly added an hour-and-a-half to you ascent – simply. It was insane. You get accomplished with the climb as much as Terry Peak and also you head down, over the northeast aspect.”
Due to the twister, Meyer – who grew up within the space and knew the terrain – had supplied his providers in rerouting the race – and, although Hansen thought it seemingly gave him an unfair benefit, Meyer was nowhere to be seen thereafter.
Once more, having realized from earlier TSDR experiences, Hansen took the descent in stride.
“It places you down this previous, deserted river mattress with rocks the scale of grapefruits or human heads,” he stated. “You’re flying down and due to the unfastened rock your physique takes this unbelievable pounding; final 12 months I might really feel each rock in my arms… assume I acquired the sensation again in them round Christmas time. It’s solely a three-mile stretch nevertheless it’s fixed pounding and also you’re holding the brakes your complete time. This 12 months I practiced a pair instances with decrease stress in my tires and it took manner much less time.”
From there, the course takes the racers on to Lead (57 miles). Then it’s the Mickelson path.
“Petr and I attempted to stick with James, however he took off and we form of determined to go collectively,” Hansen stated. “We have been in about 4-5th place at that time, however anyone stopped to have a slice (pizza), one other dropped off, and by time we get into Lead we’re in second and third; when you’re in Lead the arduous a part of the race is over.”
Or so that they thought.
Though feeling assured at this level, Hansen engaged in a apply few, if any, racers make use of throughout an endurance race.
“At that time it felt like trip in comparison with the climb and the rocky descent, so I converted to flip flops,” he stated. “Everyone offers me crap about it, however it’s important to give your ft a break otherwise you’ll get ‘foot burn.’ I’ve these pedals which can be flat on one aspect and clipped on the opposite, so I’ll try this for eight hours if I can and get out of my bike sneakers. It was by the Mickelson path and on to Hill Metropolis, the place Petr and I actually bonded. We acquired some sandwiches and talked and ready for a loopy stretch uphill.
“You must carry your bike ¾ of a mile and should you didn’t have a pc (course tracker) you wouldn’t know the place you have been; it’s so steep and, at night time you’d hear all these unusual animal noises and different issues, however this time it was gentle, so it was a cakewalk. Fairly quickly you’re at Mount Rushmore.”
From the sculptured mountain face (5,725 ft) within the Black Hills the racers head towards Hermosa (3,327 ft), the aim for many over the course of the primary day.
“That’s the aim and leaving the Black Hills you get out of timber,” Hansen stated. “ It goes fairly flat from there and it turns into fairly dry… see some very Badland-esque sorts of issues. Getting there the primary night time is fairly thrilling, nevertheless it leaves you with a alternative. Do you get some sleep and cross by the following 90 miles within the solar and the warmth or do you do the insane, eat and take off instantly – crossing the Badlands at night time? I had no intention of stopping as a result of I didn’t the 12 months earlier than. Petr is fairly drained, so we spend 15 bucks to have a bathe – one of the best cash you possibly can spend – slam a espresso and take off to cross the Badlands.”
The close to noiseless night time journey throughout the Badlands, from Hermosa to Philip (approx. 65 miles), didn’t afford the pair an opportunity to absorb the scenic marvel of the realm, and the quiet rumble of rubber tire on gravel was quickly interrupted by one other clamorous ‘crack.’
“We’re going by this, about, eight-mile stretch of scenic byway between 10-2 a.m.,” Hansen defined. “We’re biking in complete silence, solely listening to our peddling. Simply off the highway you hear puffing, snorting and grunting…, ‘what’s that?’ I flip my gentle over and I see two buffalo ramming heads, rejected males, and so they’re not completely satisfied. I don’t make eye contact and maintain transferring quietly away – proper as a badger crosses our path, trying as if he’s saying, ‘if the buffalo doesn’t get you I’ll.’”
Between Hermosa and Philip, the racers have the chance to take a break at Wall and maybe get a lodge for the remaining hours of dawn. Sadly, attributable to COVID, Wall is a who’s-who of vacationers from states far and large – relegating Hansen and Ineman to a park as a makeshift campsite.
“It’s about 4 a.m. and the solar is simply developing; Petr units up his sleeping bag on a picnic desk and I’m laying all the way down to get some sleep on the cement,” Hansen stated. “About 8 a.m. a mother and her two youngsters are out and enjoying within the close by skate park, and that’s the tip of that. We pack up and head in direction of Philip.”
Hansen and Ineman journey one other 40 miles earlier than getting a well-deserved respite in Philip. They sleep for about 3 ½ hours through the warmth of the day, stand up and get some meals of their our bodies earlier than taking off as soon as once more with sights set on Pierre.
“We try this in about 7 ½ hours, going 13-14 miles an hour, the quickest I’ve ever accomplished it,” Hansen stated. “We had some sleep in Wall and Philip and we’re feeling fairly good and get there about 2 a.m. We’ve got to go six miles as much as the dam in Pierre since you don’t go straight throughout the river. You must take a ship, paddle down river and get off on the opposite aspect close to the highway bridge.
“The rule is you possibly can’t cross at night time, can’t cross till dawn (6 a.m.). James acquired there whereas it was nonetheless gentle, so he crosses. Birk McGilvrey (4th place: 4 days, 12 hours, 57 minutes) is there earlier than us, however couldn’t cross till the following morning and Stan (Prutz, runner-up: 4 days, 1 hour, 33 min.) pulls in at midnight.”
Previous to the 2020 race, TSDR organizer Joe Stiller had bought all however certainly one of his boats in making a take care of a nationally acknowledged journey purveyor for brand new boats. Having hassle getting supplies to fill the order… nonetheless, one week earlier than the race, the corporate guarantees to have them prepared. The night time earlier than the guarantees remained unfulfilled, and… the following morning they’re not answering the telephones – leaving the racers with simply certainly one of Stiller’s authentic boats.
“There have been purported to be 5 boats; James is gone, Stan is promised the second crossing and we slept solely 2-3 hours as a result of we thought we’d get on a ship at 6 a.m.,” Hansen stated. “Birk crosses and we’re nonetheless caught. If we take the highway bridge it’s a 14-hour penalty, so we wait. By the point we get to cross it’s 2 p.m… caught in Pierre for 12 hours, however there was nothing we might do about it.”
Discouraged by having to attend, Hansen and Ineman hope to make up time crossing the flats between Pierre (checkpoint #1, finish of the dash race) and Mitchell (checkpoint #2) that carry them by Blunt and Wessington Springs. After enduring the lightning close to Blunt, discouraged was maybe one of the best they may muster on a day filled with storms and soaking rain that left the pair mired within the muck.
“We needed to undergo this clay, muddy rubbish, and actually a three-mile stretch took us 1 ½ – 1 hour, 45 minutes – pushing our bikes by sludge,” Hansen stated. “Each 10 steps you needed to take your fingers and pull mud out of your fork. By the tip of it, between the rain and the lightning, we have been utterly demoralized. Fortuitously, we discovered a hose to spray off our bikes, and we heard we weren’t the one ones to be saved by it.
“I referred to as Sarah, instructed her how ridiculous it was and knew we nonetheless had 50 miles of racing to do earlier than we acquired to a city. “We thought we have been 30 miles from Wessington Springs, however truly we have been 45 miles away. It was a string of about 4 or 5 horrible issues, and we have been beside ourselves. Petr was in a position to get my bike working and I’m unsure if I’m completely satisfied or not about it as a result of the following 5 hours was a few of the most torturous, exhausted biking we’d ever accomplished.”
Touring the now comfortable, and spongy roads the place they’d often go at a clip of 8-9 miles an hour, their three-hour experience turns into 5-7 hours earlier than attending to Wessington Springs.
“We’re shells of males,” Hansen recollects. “Some truckers are sitting at a desk on the gasoline station… and a man asks us, ‘the place are you headed?’ Sioux Metropolis. ‘What… the place are you coming from?’ Beulah. ‘What, are you insane?’ Sure!
“We appeared horrible, we’re able to stop at mud crossing and now at Wessington Springs I’m trying like Frodo after getting back from Center Earth. The man says, ‘properly, I hope you’re having enjoyable.’ Petr goes off and comes again with two beers, which completely calms me down. We get a lodge room and get some relaxation, however at that time I’d have needed to really feel higher to die.”
Ineman, who paradoxically speaks of Hansen as being a brilliant humorous and ‘constructive’ man, wakes up his racing companion after 4 hours and says, ‘let’s get going.’
“We’re not going,” replied Hansen. “As a result of after we do, we’re going to the tip (end line).”
The pair, which seemingly had a complete of 14 hours of sleep throughout their total journey, get yet another hour earlier than gearing up for the ultimate 220 miles that might take them by Mitchell and on to Sioux Metropolis.
“I had contemplated not racing after that part earlier than Wessington Springs, however I acquired some sleep and knew I used to be simply being a giant child,” Hansen stated. “We headed out for Mitchell and it was one of the best a part of journey. We have been refreshed, cruising on some paved highway, going 20 instances quicker, and feeling good as we moved towards one other examine level.”
Whereas the smoother part supplied their our bodies a momentary reprieve, it additionally allowed the pair extra alternative for dialog and exchanges of philosophy.
“I didn’t know a lot about Pete; we’d met just a few instances previous to the South Dakota race and we’d met in Alaska earlier than Iditarod,” stated Ineman, a 42-year-old native of the Czech Republic who presently lives outdoors of Chicago. “We additionally noticed one another at some gravel rides just like the Almanzo in Minnesota, however I didn’t know him very properly.
“After this I felt like I knew him for hundreds of years. We simply clicked. Driving with somebody often doesn’t work, you possibly can’t even plan one thing like that, however we clicked and had a number of enjoyable driving collectively – speaking and sharing tales.”
Which might make an especially arduous journey… joyful.
“It does; I can do solo rides, however I get pleasure from sharing the journey with anyone else,” Ineman assist. “Regardless that we came upon we’ve completely different life, we discovered many similarities too – particularly in what we wish to eat and drink whereas driving.”
At every checkpoint of the TSDR racers have their image taken and obtain one part of a three-part medal. In Mitchell, Hansen and Ineman picked up the second a part of their reward and… have one other beer.
“We determine to get a beer at each gasoline station the remainder of the way in which as a result of it makes us happier and fewer annoyed,” Hansen declared. “We bike all the way in which all the way down to the colonies, Skunk Creek on Large Sioux River… roll into Menno and so they’re closed. We make the crossing to Viborg with little to eat, however we all know we’re 20 miles from Truck Towne (Plaza) in Beresford… undoubtedly our aim. We’re about eight miles away and it’s getting chilly out . Our our bodies are beginning to shiver by this time and we’re exhausted. We discover a church and a cement slab to get a relaxation… keep about half-hour, nevertheless it felt like 30 seconds and the temperature drops much more… we gotta go.”
Two hours out, Hansen and Ineman lastly make it to Beresford – practically as grateful as they have been arriving in Wessington Springs.
‘We’re sitting there consuming and ingesting and these farmers are asking the place we’re coming from,” Hansen stated. “Beulah, Wyo. ‘Are you loopy?’ Sure, however that’s not the loopy half… we left on Saturday!”
The pair go to sleep for 20 minutes and wake drooling, with no farmers in sight. They shortly get fueled up and get again on the path.
Once more, they hit the surprising, a stretch of freshly laid gravel that slows their tempo from what would have been 15-16 miles-an-hour (30 downhill) to a mere 4-5-miles-an-hour (9-10 downhill) simply three days prior.
However, they’re shut.
“It was a horribly brutal final part on that flat stretch; we’re 20 miles away and we eat our final sandwiches,” Hansen says. “We simply weren’t psychologically ready for that… we get to the final flip, which turns right into a paved highway, roll in (North Sioux Metropolis) and… full pleasure!
“Petr having accomplished the ITI is used to being form of underwhelmed. It’s often a very long time between the second and third-place racers coming throughout the end line in that race, so nobody is there that will help you have fun.”
Figuring out this, Hansen had phoned forward to his spouse to carry celebratory provisions, together with particular beer, Puerto Rican rum and cigars to be shared whereas lounging in camp chairs and footstools.
“It one of the best factor ever, to place your ft up after one thing like that,” he stated. “Sarah introduced us beef sticks from Babcock’s Meats (Alton, Iowa), one of the best ever, and he or she had my cowboy hat ready for me.
“We began sharing tales with a few of the others , feeling like kings; we get our medals and Petr says, ‘that is all the pieces the ITI was not for me! Thanks.’ We actually bonded through the race.”
A lot in order that Ineman promptly requested Hansen if they may race the 2021 ITI 1,000 collectively in February.
“In the course of the race Petr requested me once I was coming again to Alaska,” Hansen stated. “Most individuals who do the 350 efficiently, which is the qualifier for the 1,000, come again for the 1,000, however I’ve 4 youngsters and must be gone for month-and-a-half – to not point out the cash ($20,000 for expenditures) and the chance.”
That’s the place Ineman and his experience in finishing the ITI 1,000 helped shine some gentle on the unthinkable.
“He wasn’t certain he might do it, however throughout this race we talked and I needed to supply my help and information in doing it,” Ineman stated. “It made it a bit of extra mentally comforting to know I’d be with him. I’d already accomplished it, and I believe that made the choice simpler for everybody.”
Finally after speaking it over together with his household, Sarah got here again and gave Hansen the ‘inexperienced gentle’ for the 2021 ITI.
“I didn’t wish to stress him/them, however the way forward for the race is doubtful due to the canine sledding race,” stated the 2020 ITI 1,000 (tie) males’s bike champion (22 days, 7 hours, half-hour) “They’ve had some hardship with that race recently, the previous few years, and with out it the human-powered races in all probability aren’t attainable. I instructed him, ‘let’s do it whilst you can, don’t put it off as a result of it won’t be occurring once more. I hope I’m flawed, however you by no means know.
“I actually hope we are able to make it work; it’s arduous to plan a experience with anyone, particularly on such an extended race, however I’m hoping we’ll be capable of do it and have enjoyable like we did in South Dakota.”
And together with his household’s blessing, Hansen hopes to roll their bonding TSDR expertise proper into the ITI 1,000.
“After a couple of week, and speaking it over with Sarah and the boys, it’s a go; let’s go for it,” stated Hansen, who as soon as cursed his 350-mile journey from Anchorage to McGrath. “The 1,000 miles to Nome can be unbelievable. This 12 months is the southern route, which Petr says is a bit of simpler so… why not? Let’s go for it!”